the choice to cheat

It always saddens me a little, at my own loss of innocence, when someone is so inexperienced with life that they can unequivocally state that they don’t understand why someone would cheat on their spouse. I remember being idealistic and absolutely positive that would not be an option for me. I didn’t think it was an option for anyone else either. In my young mind, I could not conceive of a possibility where that would change.

Then I had kids. I had a child with special needs. Then I was married for 20 yrs. All of a sudden I realized that my choice to leave, to divorce would be the most selfish thing to do. It would ruin the lives of the people I brought into the world and promised to protect at all costs. Even at the risk of my own safety and life if necessary. Staying in an unhappy, unfulfilling, marriage was the least I could do to ensure their well being.

I was not in an abusive marriage. I did not suffer from a spouse who tormented and hurt me physically. He did not drink or do drugs; he had no unbearable vices that necessitated my immediate withdraw for the safety of my kids. Instead I was ignored to the point of my soul becoming vacant. I was sexually abandoned and mentally isolated from lack of adult communication about our marriage and relationship.

Children are not witness to those areas of their parent’s marriage and so all they saw were 2 well functioning adults who consistently met their needs and provided them with a secure platform to grow from. I can not regret giving up my life and happiness in exchange for what my staying gave them. The only thing that saved me, the only thing that enabled me to endure the loneliness of my life, was to have an affair.

It was not a choice I ever thought I would make. It took years of traumas building one on top of the other, that I endured alone, before a single event was the catalyst to my immediate acceptance of having a person in my life, not my spouse, who provided me with the safety and security I needed to recover from and heal from the damage my marriage created.

I could never have imagined that kind of despair and loneliness when I was young and inexperienced. I would never have been able to understand that chronic isolation builds inside of a person until it feels like they can die from it because leaving is not an option. For most parents, it’s not a choice to save yourself at the expense of your kids. You endure. You adjust. You deal with it as best you  can. Sometimes the only choice IS between a rock and a hard place.

When you have children, everything you once knew and believed will change. It is not gradual for a mother; it’s almost immediate once they are born. You do not make the decision to cheat when you are neglected by a spouse; you are pushed into it by a partner who puts 2 hands against your back while looking over their own shoulder because they simply do not care to see where you end up, once they lose contact with you as you disappear off the edge of the cliff.

They abdicate responsibility for their actions and do not take responsibility for their part in the failure of the marriage because their needs are being met and they are not vested in yours. You mean as little as piece of living room furniture to them; something that serves a purpose but of which they take no notice of, after the initial purchase and movement to its expected spot in the house. You are forgotten until they go to use you at some distant point in the future, only to be notified you were broken years ago and thrown away

Beyond their faint surprise you are no longer there, they experience no emotion at knowing you are gone. They simply arrange for a replacement to take your place and provide for their basic needs that they want to have met. You are as replaceable as a cog in the functioning of their life because you are nothing more than a tool to them or someone who plays nothing more than a role in the animation of their life.

You have an affair because you can’t stand feeling hollow and unappreciated anymore. You actually have the thought that being dead would be a better option than living as you are and instead of scaring you beyond reason, you actually begin the thought process of how it would work for your children without you in their life. It’s not until you start to heal in an affair, that you see just how far gone you were in respect to your reasoning and ability to cope with normal life, let alone traumatic events.

Affairs happen for so many reasons. Some reasons are more acceptable than others in my mind. Not everyone will understand that unless they’ve been faced with a similar circumstance. For the people who simply can not understand my perspective, I’m actually sadly glad that they have never felt what I have, for I would not wish it on my worst enemy. Their scorn and convictions remind me of how naive I once was; before life showed me how much I had to learn about sacrifice and love. And forgiveness. Forgiving myself has been much harder than forgiving him, for not being who I thought he was.

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19 Responses to the choice to cheat

  1. literally says:

    Thank you for honesty and rational, compassionate thought. It’s easy to condemn…it is rare to understand

    • rougedmount says:

      the rush to judgement is ingrained for most of us…so sure of ourselves that we forget the experience of others is only understood by talking to them and truly listening to what is said.

  2. literally says:

    Reblogged this on smilingtomyself and commented:
    Some brave honesty from a great writer

  3. My dear Friend, thank you for baring your soul with understanding and compassion for those who judge first and question afterwards. Unless we have lived, truly lived, in the place of another, we have no right to judge their actions or motives. The lucky ones who have never had to live with disappointment, heartbreak, shattered expectations and many other soul-tearing situations in life and love are lucky, but still not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. They are also not experts in human relationships, but lucky and/or very blessed. I am way too imperfect to judge anyone, but smart enough to know I don’t know squat sometimes, so best to show love, understanding and compassion than hate or judgment. An outstretched hand and a nonjudgmental ear helps more than an ignorant and mean spirited uncontrollable tongue. The world already has enough unqualified judges, why would I need to join that misguided group of subhumans. I can’t pick up a stone to toss, but I can extend a hand of love and understanding, others ought to try it.
    We would all be blessed more.
    👀 ♥ * ͜ * ♥ 👀 👀 ♥ * ͜ * ♥ 👀 👀 ♥ * ͜ * ♥ 👀

  4. I am in a similar situation, although there is a clinical reason for the emotional neglect. But I’m glad I’ve negotiated to maintain our home life, for the sake of our kids (including one who is disabled). Thank you for this post. LB xx

  5. willcrimson says:

    When I got engaged with an ex-Fiancée she told me that if I ever cheated on her the marriage would be over. I answered that if she ever stopped having sex with me then she could count on the same. She was shocked by that and told me it wasn’t the same thing.

    The hell it’s not.

    A sexual relationship can be very fragile but it’s so important. By what you describe, it sound as if the sexual relationship, if not the marriage (and sexual health is normally part of a marriage) ended years ago.

    You didn’t cheat.

    You looked for the intimacy that you deserved He cheated on you by not giving it to you. One partner ignoring another’s need for intimacy is just as harmful and hurtful as any unprovoked affair. Far as I’m concerned, cheating doesn’t just mean running off with another man or woman. Cheating encompasses far more than that. 🙂

    • rougedmount says:

      We are on the exact same page of the exact same book. Unfortunately, it takes some people years to understand what we know to be true. The one event of ignoring a partners needs precipitated the secondary event of seeking succor elsewhere to have them met. It’s such a simple concept really. Men need sex to feel intimacy and ultimately, so do many women.

  6. Madeline Harper says:

    Love this post, lived these words and understand the depth from which you write them. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Shalom says:

    As you know, i have shared that space with you, RM. It’s refreshing to read Will Crimson’s take on ‘cheating’, too. After 10 years of emotional and sexual barrenness, the affair I had made me feel ALIVE again. That said, with the honesty, trust and love LM and i share and nurture every day, i pray never to be in that predicament ever again.

  8. kdaddy23 says:

    Why would someone cheat on their spouse? It’s not all that difficult to think of the legion of reasons why it would happen. We are naive about it: We think that it’ll never happen to us or that we’d never do such a thing… and then things happen that eventually prove how totally clueless we were about the way relationships really work.

    If you’ve never cheated or have been cheated on, good for you; you do not want to know how totally disturbing this “wakeup call” can be. Here’s the thing, though: When you promise, swear, vow, or even imply that you’re going to take care of your partner’s every need, you’d better be ready, willing, able and capable of backing up those high-falutin words because when you don’t – and you’ll notice I didn’t say “if” – well, let’s just say that you’re going to get an education you’ll wish you never got.

    • rougedmount says:

      so many people live in a strange altered reality that is far removed from the truth.

      • kdaddy23 says:

        No, my darling Rouged, it’s just that they believe that cheating doesn’t make sense, that there is never a reason to cheat and, of course, it’s never supposed to happen and that’s because this is what we’re taught about being monogamous, just like we believe that we’d never cheat or that we could never be cheated on.

        And that’s despite the fact that we know that people cheat. It’s not an altered reality – it’s just plain old denial and even a degree of arrogance. But, yeah, when the cheating has been discovered, they claim not to understand why it’s happened; sometimes they really don’t know but most of the time, yeah, they know why they’ve been cheated on…

  9. shalynne says:

    I could have written this post 10 years ago and it would have read almost word for word. Like, you, I am amazed when people tell me they can’t understand why people cheat on a spouse. When I hear that, I just think “you haven’t had a very deep relationship, have you?” and move on. I have since remarried and the only thing we promised each other was to be honest with each other, no matter how painful. Consensual non-monogamy is far more honest and far easier to live with than the pressure of having to meet one person’s every need. People who’ve never had to live up to that expectation before have no business saying “how can someone cheat?”

    Great post. Thanks for sharing so honestly.

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